For close to a year now, attention-seekers and bloggers have been able to wirelessly upload their favorite clips captured with their cell phones to YouTube, but oddly enough, they were unable to view those same videos on their handsets-until now. The revamped YouTube Mobile turns video sharing into a two-way experience by allowing 3G-enabled phone users to indulge in the latest and greatest clips on virtually any cell phone that enables streaming video.
Accessing YouTube Mobile's library is simple; we used the Samsung Upstage and pointed its browser to m.youtube.com. The landing screen warns that you should have an unlimited data plan to handle the high volume of information being exchanged. Once we skipped past that, we were able to scroll through a vertical listing of featured videos in just a few seconds and jump directly to the Recently Added, Top Rated, Top Favorites, and Most Viewed videos, which are mapped to number buttons for fast access. Unlike the standard YouTube site, we were unable to dig through the most popular videos categorized by day, week, month, or all-time, but a search box is also included for looking for specific videos. The fun "Grab Bag" option serves up random clips, which aids in the discovery process.
After we found "Stinky Vegetables" in the Top Rated section, we clicked the clip and quickly discovered that YouTube Mobile is remarkably similar to its big brother; it listed a clip's title, the length, star rating, creator's user name, date of creation, and a still shot that acts as the face of the video. "Stinky Vegetables," the tale of a man who terrorizes his family with brussels sprouts, played without a hitch on Sprint's EV-DO network; the audio was in sync with the video, and the visuals overall were solid, if a bit grainy. Unfortunately, there's no way to rate a video, mark it as a favorite, or share it.
We fired up "The World's Tallest Midget" on the HTC Mogul to see how YouTube Mobile fared in the Windows Mobile 6 environment. After clicking the video, we were presented with a warning that "running a system command on this item might be unsafe." We continued on, only to be met with an error message stating that the Mogul couldn't play back the YouTube Mobile format.
Although YouTube Mobile is optimized for 3G networks, we tested the service on outdated EDGE-enabled phones to see how they'd fare under the heavy data stream. On average, it took just less than a minute and a half to load the initial video list on AT&T's pokey EDGE connection. When we were finally able to search for "A Comicbook Orange; Frank Miller Theme," we found the stream irksome; the video stuttered almost the entire length of the four-minute video while it kept fetching data.
After we finished watching the videos, we compared them with the standard YouTube versions. There was some color degradation on the mobile phone version; the pictures weren't nearly as sharp; and the sound wasn't as lively, but we were still able to enjoy it. Uploading video to YouTube was as simple as sending an MMS message to a registered account's e-mail address.
If you own a 3G-enabled phone, YouTube Mobile is an excellent way to get your viral video fix, as long as you're cool with losing the ability to rate and share content.
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